Indonesia possibly unaware of incursions

Indonesia was possibly unaware Australian Navy vessels made repeated incursions into their waters, until it was told by Australia.


Evidence provided during a Senate committee inquiry into the incidents suggests Indonesian authorities could have remained ignorant to the breaches between December 2013 and January 2014 under the federal government’s Operation Sovereign Borders.

“They certainly didn’t raise it with us or draw it to our attention,” head of Customs and Border Protection Michael Pezzullo told the committee on Friday.

“Whether they were aware or not through their own systems I just don’t know.”

Incursions were reported to senior Australian officials on January 15, who passed information on to the Indonesian government the next day.

Indonesia responded by stepping up its naval presence monitoring its southern border.

Australia has since confirmed there were six incursions, some of which may have occurred during the tow-back of asylum seeker boats.

Border protection authorities are assessing whether lapses in judgment contributed to the incidents, which have been described by academics as breaches of international law.

Operation Sovereign Borders commander Angus Campbell believes they were inadvertent.

“Knowing the culture and professionalism of both the Navy and the Customs and Border Protection Service it is quite frankly personally inconceivable that anyone would have wilfully done so,” he told the committee.

Mr Pezzullo can recollect no other instance of Australian government vessels crossing into a neighbours’ territorial waters and refuted suggestions it was deliberate.

“It’s inconceivable to me that in six occurrences … insubordinate defiance by intentionally going into territorial waters contrary to stipulation would have occurred,” he said.

Customs and Defence carried out a joint review of the incursions which made five recommendations to prevent further breaches.

Inquiries are underway in relation to the professional conduct of relevant personnel, while training regimes are under review.

Lieutenant-General Campbell is confident such incursions will not be repeated.

“The thoroughness of the review, its broad recommendations and the more immediate active control measures that were put in place will ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Mr Pezzullo said it is government policy to prevent asylum seeker boats illegally entering Australia’s territorial and contiguous waters.

As part of its operation the government has spent $2.5 million on life boats to send asylum seekers back to Indonesia.

The orange craft have been pictured washed-up on shore in Indonesia and the committee was told there will be no attempts to retrieve them.

“They are treated as consumable items once they are used … (they) do not need to be returned or sought,” Mr Pezzullo said.

Dodger Wilson ready to hit SCG for six

Explaining cricket to Americans is like trying to complete a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded.


But the biggest cult figure in Major League Baseball, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson just gets it.

In January, while teammates were complaining about their looming 15-hour trip to Sydney, zany Wilson and his world famous beard were already here.

On vacation. At the SCG. For the Ashes.

“I drove by the stadium, I knew cricket was huge over here so thought I’d check the schedule,” said Wilson.

“I found out they were playing the Ashes.

“I just went out on my own. Showed up asked if I could come in and watch.

“We (Australia) haven’t fared against England too well in the past but we seem to have walloped them this time.”

Wilson is able to rattle off terminology like overs, bowlers, batsmen and centuries like he grew up with Bradman and not Babe – plus he’s calling Australia “we”.

And as the benchmark for facial-haired athletes and clutch, championship-winning pitchers – Wilson would have appreciated Mitchell Johnson’s feats more than most.

His knowledge of cricket is just one reason why Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly says about Wilson:

“Don’t judge the book by the cover.”

If you only watch one innings of Saturday night’s MLB season-opener between the Dodgers and Arizona, make sure it’s the eighth.

That’s when Wilson comes to the mound.

That’s when you need to “fear the beard”.

In 2010, that was the only phrase being chanted in San Francisco, as closing pitcher Wilson led the Giants to an emphatic World Series victory, finishing every playoff win with his signature cross-armed salute.

Virgin American Airlines even bearded one of their planes.

He once described himself in an interview as a “certified ninja”, but beneath the whiskers, the mangy mohawk and the masses of arm tattoos is an athlete who is anything but a gimmick and much more than a larger-than-life character.

In 2012, Wilson was cut by San Francisco after undergoing the second elbow reconstruction of his career.

Without the assistance of a club, the fittest pitcher in baseball rehabilitated himself and was picked up by the Dodgers as a free agent midway through last season.

“I didn’t want somebody training me with negative energy. I’m into it. I know what I want to do,” he said.

“When I’m on the mound, if I can say the most difficult thing I’ve done all day was my work-out, than pitching will be a lot easier.

“I don’t have time to think about negativity.”

Durant bags 35 as Thunder down Cavaliers

Kevin Durant scored 35 points and Serge Ibaka had 16 as the Oklahoma City Thunder held off a furious Cleveland comeback for a 102-95 NBA win over the injury-riddled Cavaliers on Thursday.


The Thunder won their 50th game of the season to close in on San Antonio for the best record in the NBA’s Western Conference.

Durant missed five of his first six shots, but the league’s top scorer finally found his touch. He has scored 25 or more in 33 straight games – the NBA’s second-longest streak since Michael Jordan did it 40 consecutive times (1986-87).

Three teams jockeying for playoff position in the tight Western Conference also got victories.

The Houston Rockets, currently in fourth place, got 28 points from James Harden in a 129-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Turkish centre Omer Asik started in his place of injured Dwight Howard, who has an a strained left ankle, and scored 12 points as the Rockets won for the seventh time in 10 games to maintain a better record over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland also picked up a win on Thursday, defeating the Washington Wizards 116-103.

Wesley Matthews had 28 points and Damian Lillard added 23 points and 10 assists for the Blazers, who remained in fifth place with three victories in their last four games after a four-game losing streak.

Golden State recorded a tougher-than-expected 115-110 victory over the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks.

Stephen Curry had 31 points and 11 assists and Klay Thompson scored 29 as Golden State moved 18 games over .500 for the first time in 20 years.

The Warriors are in sixth place in the West ahead of Memphis and Dallas with 12 games left.

Barca still believe in Clasico chances

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has insisted they can turn around their poor away form and put themselves right back in the La Liga title race by beating leaders Real Madrid on Sunday.


The Catalans lie in third, four points adrift of Real, having won just one of their last five away games in La Liga.

However, Iniesta believes the Spanish champions showed in their two recent games against Manchester City in the Champions League they are still capable of beating anyone on their day.

“We have had bad days, like everyone, but no one can think that Madrid will beat us easily,” he told a press conference on Thursday.

“It is difficult to think that there are Barca fans that don’t believe in us.

“This team has won the right to believe in it no matter what the situation is.”

Barca boss Gerardo Martino looks set to name the side that started the home leg against City for just the second time all season.

That means Neymar and Cesc Fabregas will return after being rested for last weekend’s 7-0 win over Osasuna, with Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez, who struck the winner the last time Barca met Real in October, dropping to the bench.

And Iniesta is urging his teammates to impose themselves on the game rather than being cowed by the atmosphere at the Bernabeu.

“We need to be Barca, to be brave. If we are not then it won’t go well for us.”

Madrid haven’t been beaten in 31 games in all competitions since the two sides met at the Camp Nou.

That run has allowed Carlo Ancelotti’s men to overtake Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, whilst also progressing to the Copa del Rey final and the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Real suffered a blow midweek as 21-year-old forward Jese Rodriguez was ruled out for the rest of the season with cruciate ligament damage in his right knee.

That won’t affect Ancelotti’s starting line-up, though, as the likes of Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will return to the side after being rested from the start in the 3-1 win over Schalke on Wednesday.

New Cobain death scene photos released

With the 20th anniversary of the suicide of Kurt Cobain in April, Seattle police knew they would be getting plenty of questions about the Nirvana frontman.


So a detective reviewed the case files – including evidence photos and statements. He found no new information to change the police conclusion that Cobain took his own life, but did discover four rolls of undeveloped film from the suicide scene.

Late on Thursday, Seattle police released two previously unseen images from those rolls. One showed a box containing drug paraphernalia, a spoon and some things that look like needles on the floor next to half a cigarette and sunglasses. The other showed the paraphernalia box closed, next to cash, a cigarette pack and a wallet that appears to show Cobain’s identification.

“There was nothing earth-shattering in any of these images,” police spokeswoman Renee Witt said. “The detective went into the case files to refresh himself. The outcome of the case has not changed.”

Cobain’s body was discovered in Seattle on April 8, 1994. An investigation determined that days earlier Cobain had gone into the greenhouse of his large home and taken a massive dose of heroin. He then killed himself with a 20-gauge shotgun.

Earlier that year, Cobain had tried to kill himself in Rome by taking an overdose of tranquillisers.

Cobain, who was aged 27 when he died, sold millions of albums with Nirvana and helped popularise the heavy, muddy “grunge” rock in America’s Pacific Northwest, along with bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Mudhoney.

Cobain grew up in the logging town of Aberdeen, Washington, about two hours southwest of Seattle. After he died thousands of young people converged on Seattle Centre, near the Space Needle, for a public memorial.

Though his death was ruled a suicide some refused to believe that, leading to conspiracy theories that Cobain had been killed.

In a statement on the Seattle Police Department’s online blotter, the detective who re-examined the case dismissed that speculation.

“Sometimes people believe what they read – some of the disinformation from some of the books, that this was a conspiracy. That’s completely inaccurate,” said Detective Mike Ciesynski, who found the four rolls of undeveloped crime scene photos. “It’s a suicide. This is a closed case.”

Church denies contriving to deny abuse

A senior Catholic Church official has denied he contrived a tactic to support the church’s legal dispute that former altar boy John Ellis was never abused.


Michael Casey had been asked by then archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, to check whether or not the internal church process had found in favour of Mr Ellis’s complaint of abuse by a priest at Bass Hill in Sydney in the 1970s.

Dr Casey, Cardinal Pell’s private secretary, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he was shown a June 2005 email from him to the church legal team which said the church-appointed assessor did find “on the balance of probabilities” Mr Ellis was abused by Father Aidan Duggan.

However, the email went on to say that the director of the Public Standards Office, Michael Salmon, had mentioned there were reservations about Mr Ellis’s evidence and that as such the church authority had discretion to reject the assessor’s findings.

Dr Casey wrote the church was in a position in which “we can say the archdiocese has never accepted that Fr Duggan was responsible for the abuse Ellis alleges he suffered, either under the Towards Healing process or at law.”

On Friday, the hearing returned several times to the email, with commission chair Justice Peter McClellan pointing out that what Dr Casey had written was at odds with what Mr Salmon had told the commission.

Mr Salmon has said that he never doubted John Ellis’s claim, but that someone else had expressed reservations.

Dr Casey said it was possible he had misunderstood Mr Salmon, but that “I took care to try and capture it.”

Justice McClellan: “Dr Casey you knew when you were writing this document that the church was seeking to see whether or not it could legitimately defend (the Ellis law suit) by rejecting Mr Ellis’s story didn’t you?”

Dr Casey: “Yes. Yes your honour.”

When it was put to him by Justice McClellan that he had “worked very hard to contrive a way in which the church could deny the truths of Mr Ellis’s account”, Dr Casey replied that he did not “wilfully and untruthfully” misrepresent what Mr Salmon told him.

Monsignor John Usher, who became chancellor of the archdiocese in 2005, said he could not understand why the Towards Healing process in the case of Mr Ellis had taken so long.

Mons Usher, who had been heavily involved in a precursor to Towards Healing, said his approach to abuse victims was pastoral and abuse victims were usually believed and not asked to sign deeds of release.

He said Dr Pell approved the approach.

Dr Casey earlier said that when he advised Dr Pell that Mr Ellis was in an extremely fragile state, and his health was deteriorating, the cardinal advised: “We should leave it for a few months and then see where we are”.

Dr Pell is expected to give evidence on Monday.

Hodge on a high for T20 World Cup

Nearly a decade ago, Brad Hodge was told by Australian selectors he was over the hill and his limited-overs international career was finished.


The stinging appraisal was delivered with Australia looking at rejuvenating its team ahead of the 2007 World Cup, in which they claimed a fourth title.

Now, aged 39, the prolific runscorer is a vital component of Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup campaign in Bangladesh and is revelling in his role as the team’s “death batsman”.

Hodge admits the feedback hurt at the time, but his belief in his ability to play at the top level never wavered.

“It’s a huge shift in thinking,” Hodge said ahead of Australia’s opening match against Pakistan in Dhaka on Sunday.

“I got told (by a selector) at 30 years of age that I would never play one-day cricket or limited-overs cricket for Australia again.

“I look back now and think, nine years later, it sort of hurt a bit. I thought what a premature call that was.”

Hodge praised the approach of Australian cricket under new coach Darren Lehmann to bring back in-form veterans, which has also seen the impressive return of opener Chris Rogers to the Test team.

“It can only come down to the change in the (selection) panel: Lehmann, (captain) Michael Clarke, (and selector) Rod Marsh I would assume has a fair call,” he said.

“(Selector Andy) Bichel has seen me all around IPL and those sort of things.

“Chris Rogers averages 50 in first-class cricket so it’s not surprising we have come in and had an impact in this short period.

“The motive is that we want to win and we want to win every tournament – to do that you need to get the best players in.

“It’s a pretty simple formula I would have thought.”

Hodge has embraced his role as a late middle-order batsmen whose job is to close out an innings – or win matches at the death.

It is a task he was given by Rajasthan Royals mentor Rahul Dravid, and one he was wary of at first but has grown to love.

“They had a strategy that the top bowlers bowl at the start and at the end,” Hodge explained.

“(Dravid’s) theory was for me to face those guys at the back end of the innings.

“I said to him ‘that’s good but I think you are missing a trick – you are only asking me to face 20 balls; if I faced 50 I could get 100 and win a game’.

“But the facts were that over the course of the year I probably won three to four games batting down the order whereas maybe I would have only won one or two at the top.”

Retail workers win adult rate case

Retailers will have to pay their 20-year-old workers adult rates following a decision by the Fair Work Commission.


However, the workers will need to have been with their employer for more than six months to be eligible for a pay rise.

The decision has angered retailers, who say it will risk jobs.

They have called on the federal government to do everything in its power to halt the increase.

“This decision will prove detrimental to both employers and employees,” Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

The commission found that a significant number of retail employees already had at least three years’ experience by the time they were 20.

It also found there was little difference in the work and duties of workers aged 20 and 21.

The discounted rate – 90 per cent of adult rates – for 20-year-old workers did not provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net, the commission decided.

The case was launched by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) which welcomed the commission ruling, adding that it will only bring beneficial employment outcomes.

“Paying younger workers less than the full adult rate is outdated and discriminatory,” the SDA said in a statement after the decision.

But the Australian Industry Group said the change was a blow to the retail industry at a time when trading conditions were tough.

“The commission’s decision to disturb the current system of junior rates risks destroying the job prospects of many young Australians,” the group’s chief, Innes Willox, said.

The new rates will be phased in over a year, starting on July 1, 2014.

Lesbian tilt, not abuse, ended friendship

Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has told a court his friendship with an alleged victim’s mother faltered because the woman was sexually pursuing his wife.


Hughes said it was not because her daughter had disclosed his alleged sexual abuse.

The actor has pleaded not guilty to 11 sexual and indecent assault charges dating back to the 1980s and 1990s.

After weeks of prosecution evidence in which Sydney’s District Court has heard claims he abused five girls, the 65-year-old has now begun to tell his version of events.

Under cross-examination on Friday, Hughes agreed that he and his wife Robyn Gardiner regularly visited a good friend’s Sydney home for barbecues and parties.

But he emphatically denied ever going into a bedroom where his friend’s daughter slept and rubbing his hand against her vagina.

And though he agreed the barbecue invitations dried up after the girl decided to stay home from a joint family holiday, Hughes says this was because the child’s mother took an interest in Ms Gardiner.

“She was showing an interest in having sex with (my wife),” Hughes said on Friday.

“I had observed that she was wanting to spend more time with Robyn in close physical proximity … we made the decision that it would be better all round if we did not socialise with them anymore because it was upsetting to Robyn.”

Crown prosecutor Gina O’Rourke suggested that before the families’ friendship soured, Hughes had swum naked in the girl’s family pool and started “touching, grabbing and caressing” her underwater.

“I suggest that you did it to gauge her reaction, (to) see if she would yell out or complain to a parent or other adult,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“I did not,” Hughes said loudly.

“And I suggest to you that if she did, you could explain it away as just inadvertent,” the prosecutor went on.

“I suggest to you that (she) did not yell out, and that encouraged you to move on to more serious touching.”

Hughes was emphatic in his denials, sometimes looking toward the jury and shaking his head.

His evidence continues on Monday.

Cyberbullied son couldn’t see way out: mum

Grieving mother Dina Halkic likens social media to a loaded gun.


She says her 17-year-old son, Allem, was driven to suicide because of relentless cyberbullying in 2009.

Mrs Halkic and her husband had no idea their son was feeling troubled and were stunned when they saw messages on his phone and social media after his death.

“We could not believe what we were seeing,” Mrs Halkic told an anti-bullying event in Melbourne on Friday.

“The text messages and over 300 posts in the weeks leading to our son’s death, they were relentless, they were very harsh, derogatory comments.

“Unfortunately my son couldn’t see a way out and that was his only option.”

The Altona Meadows teenager had received derogatory and threatening messages on his phone and through social networking sites from a former friend following a falling-out.

Mrs Halkic says she and her husband had no idea what had been going on in the life of the Altona Meadows teenager.

“He was so, so smart and intelligent and he had aspirations and dreams,” she said.

“We felt so much to blame. We just didn’t understand it.”

She said they could not let another family go through what they had and more education was needed.

“We had no ideas of the dangers that could happen inside the house,” she said.

“(Social media) is like a loaded gun that you give your child.

“To take his own life, our son didn’t deserve that.”

Bully Zero Australia Foundation, which provides care to bullying victims, predicts that by 2020, cyberbullying will be the biggest social issue facing Australians.

“Hug your kids because there’s a lot of families out there, in fact almost 300 of them this year, that won’t be able to hug their children as a result of the scourge of cyberbullying,” foundation chief executive Oscar Yildiz told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.

Shane Phillip Gerada, who had sent Allem five threatening text messages in the hours leading up to his death, was convicted in 2010 of one count of stalking. He was sentenced to an 18-month community-based order.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.